Wednesday, 7 March 2012

124. The Phantom Ship (1936)

Title card courtesy of Dave Mackey.
Warner cartoon no. 123.
Release date: February 2, 1936.
Series: Looney Tunes.
Supervision: Jack King.
Producer: Leon Schlesinger.
Starring: Bernice Hansen (Ham and Ex) and Tommy Bond (Beans).
Musical Score: Bernard Brown.
Animation: Paul Smith and Don Williams.
Sound: Treg Brown (uncredited).

Ham and Ex are inside the living room as they are reading a newspaper article with the front headline reading:
 Ham and Ex are jumping about inside the living room excited that their "Uncle Beans" is about to do a mission that probably hasn't been done before - at least in this story. Ham and Ex then rush outside to their garden where Beans is already setting his plane up by squirting the wheels with an oil can. It's one of them cartoon planes that have a face on it.
Beans then jumps onto the plane in which the plane takes off and his flight to the north for his ambitious trip begins.

 Beans flight to the North sequence shows up in the air speeding pretty fast. The meter in the plane that tells where Beans is standing was originally from New York; and there appears to be cut as it's sliding to the location; and Beans stands upon his plane doing the Hopak dance; so we can assume he's in Russia as it says in the meter. I wonder why it was cut?

The meter then changes position from Russia to Iceland. Boy; if that's where he REALLY is then he's obviously travelling very fast in such speed. Looks like he's probably the first to travel from New York to Iceland (travelling past West Coast, Asia, Europe, etc.) and yet it's taken him quickly. Beans must be just like Charles Lindbergh except it took him 33 hours. The thermometer stat when it reaches Iceland drops so rapidly that the thermometer explodes. Yes; I've seen thermometers explodes but I don't about that in cold weathers. Beans has already arrived at Iceland with icicles in his land (so; it's just going to assume that it's all ice just because it's called Iceland). Of course; when you see Greenland - you expect green - but that's basically all ice. Very ironic.

Beans then gets out his binoculars in which he looks out the window to find the ship abandoned in the middle of an ice field. Beans shouts "Hooray" as he's found it - in what; a couple of minutes? I really like that gag that shows the smoke coming out the plane and already evolving into ice.

The plane then starts to land at Iceland where it loops around as it's landing. Beans looks up at the ship where it's called "The Phantom" but the words are just printed on a bat that flies out of the scene. Beans steps out of his plane in which the boot opens with Ham and Ex shouting "Surprise, surprise!" with Beans doing a 360 degree hat take. Well; it appears that Ham and Ex were in the boot all along. Beans looks at both Ham and Ex wondering what he's going to do with both of them but makes his mind up as though he might as well have them for the trip.

Both Ham and Ex are giggling very childishly in which Beans is still confused as they both both onto his hands to drag him along. Beans then notices that a stair case drops to the ground where you enter the phantom ship. Beans leads Ham and Ex to follow him.

The stairs then start to move backwards where they struggle to walk up the stairs but a type of hands smacks them up and they are on top of the ship. Now we can already see that the ship is evidently haunted. It's a little creepy to see that the flags happen to have hands. As there is one hand that starts to grab Beans in which Beans turns terrified and tries to dodge the hand. The hand of the flag  then grabs Beans' tail in which Beans can't  run any further. The hand flag then tosses Beans in the air with another flag pole with a hand that tosses Beans in the air, too but drops him to the ground.

The ship is proved to be haunted as Beans hands on a folded up piece of rope and an anchor comes to life by punching Beans down the basement of the ship. Beans then starts to position himself in a John Sullivan pose and trying to start a fight, "He can't do that to me, etc." A lamp attached to the ceiling then comes to life by swinging and then hitting Beans on the head.

Ham and Ex are calling for "Uncle Beans" asking for his whereabouts. A skeleton pirate them pops out of the blankets of a lifeboat to shout "Pipe down!" Ham and Ex turn around to figure out who said that but both slam into each other in the face. Both Ham and Ex then hide under the blankets on the port side of the ship but get knocked by a lifebelt that drops on top of them. They both then try to run off but don't realise they're under a blanket.

Ham and Ex are therefore in blankets and of course they look like ghosts. As a matter of fact; since it's nothing but a blanket over the twins - it even scares the skeleton pirates. It causes a pirate to disappear by hiding; and another skeleton to jump overboard. The admiral skeleton then steps out of the lifeboat. Ham and Ex then crash into a pole, but the blankets stretch like a slingshot and wraps around the admiral skeleton.

The blanket then crashes into the door in which the door evolves into a tongue by licking Ham and Ex inside the cabin. So many creepy stuff in this cartoon and of course; this probably isn't a very exciting cartoon but the ideas are very interesting in which is haunted. The gags so far are fun - so this seems to be a fine production to me.

Ham and Ex roll inside the cabin in which Beans gets run over until Ham and Ex are out of the blanket and Beans is under there. Both Ham and Ex look at "the figure" under the blankets and mistaken it for a haunted creature, skeleton or a ghost. They both then start to grab out the paddles.

Both Ham and Ex use their paddles to whack "the creature" under the blanket. They both open up the sheet to see who was under there and it was none other but Beans. Ham and Ex gasp shouting "Uncle Beans" and both feel bad for hitting their uncle. They help Beans up in which Beans stands back up grumbling "Bah" and walks off. Beans opens a door in which to his amazement we finds gold; treasure chests inside the room which was his top target to search for in his expedition. Beans steps inside to feel the gold.

Ham and Ex then step into the room as they're also amazed to see a lot of gold in the room as they also want to help Beans to take it all with him. Both Ham and Ex then find the coins as they play a type of "Heads and Tails" game to see who keeps the join - so one of them wins; leaving (probably Ex) disgruntled.

Beans continues to be grabbing out the gold until he finds a group of frozen people sitting down by the stove as there is no fire. Beans scratches his head remarking, "Frozen stiff". Beans removes the chair of one of the lads sitting down; but he seems SO stiff that it wouldn't drop to the ground and that makes it unrealistic. But I guess animating a frozen body drop stiff was probably hard to animate and achieve well back then - unless they could assign it to someone like Bob McKimson.

Beans then throws the table into the stove. Beans then walks to the next frozen person on his right to take the chair off and throw it inside the stove. Beans then strikes a match to keep the stove warm since he's found a part of wood. The stove has now got fire inside in which it should cool up soon. Beans then sneaks out of the scene to let them defrost.

Beans then grabs out the bag of gold as he tosses it out of the window to place on his plane since he's got a lot to collect. The frozen figures then defrost in time as they come to life. The sailor then comes back to life; as well as the captain who defrosts in time. The captain then scratches his head as though he's been frozen for the longest time.

The captain then makes a sudden notice on Beans as he is stealing the treasure. The captain then stands behind Beans preparing to kill him with his sword without him noticing. Beans turns around in time in which he 'takes'. Ham and Ex are also frightened as they jump inside a barrel to hide from the captain.

The chase begins as the Peg  legged pirate has his peg stuck on the hole of the door in which he struggles to get himself off the floor. Ham and Ex look out of the barrel to see what is going on but are noticed by a dog sailor in which he creeps up to the twin pups. The sailor then chases Ham and Ex inside the cabin but the sailor is then knocked out by running into a pole. Stupid dope.

A funny gag then pops up when the captain is still stuck on the floorboard but as he pulls his pegged leg out; he tries to stand still but as he places his foot down the floorboard whacks him in the rear end - which is entertaining. The captain then flies out of the floorboard by whacking himself too hard; and lands on deck almost crushing Beans.

The captain of the ship looks at Beans giving him dirty looks in which Beans tries to hide in a cannon but his timing runs out of luck since the captain notices him inside and tries to pull him out of the cannon. The captain attempts to try and punch Beans through a window but does so successfully but the funny gag is that Beans flies out of the funnel in which hits the captain on the head. In some ways; it doesn't matter if the gag isn't  so coherent but at least it's fun.

Meanwhile Ham and Ex are are peril as he's being chased by the captain's assistant. They are trying to escape by using the ropes; but are left hanging and can't use their strength and start calling for "Uncle Beans". The sailor then starts to cut off the rope in which Ham and Ex are left swinging onto the rope.

They manage to swing safely onto the plane in which Beans is still in trouble by the captain. They start to fly the plane themselves to help save Beans. The captain then finds a barrel full of gunpowder in which he tries to throw it at Beans; but Beans manages to successfully dodge.

The barrel then starts to hit the pole and explodes as Beans manages to dodge it successfully. Some pretty neat explosion animation effects here as it is shown.

Ham and Ex are on the plane and they notice that "Uncle Beans" is seen flying in the air because of the gunpowder reaction. The plane then turns in which Uncle Beans lands safely. Beans is very happy to see Ham and Ex has saved them and kisses them on the forehead in return of gratitude. Beans, Ham and Ex then look down as they are leaving the ship. They have the gold with them in which they fly off into the distance.

Overall comments: I liked the idea on how that the synopsis of this short is about Beans on an expedition to a phantom ship where it's all haunted. It does make a great story; even though the cartoon probably isn't so exciting. This cartoon was thoroughly enjoyable at times; although it puzzles me on how that he could travel from New York to Iceland in like a matter of minutes - it didn't even seem very quick as well; from the speed of the plane and all. I've noticed that the character developments of Ham and Ex is different from than say; The Fire Alarm. They don't seem to be mischievous at all either because their butts being chewed out by Beans made them learn their lesson. I do quite like the haunted gags that have been presented here. Another Jack King short that is thoroughly decent at best. Jack King seems to have enjoyed working on expedition productions as he's written some like Buddy's Lost World or maybe; Westward Whoa - even though he's probably made very much.


  1. This cartoon keeps moving and dizzily enjoys taking the viewer with it. There is some nice scoring here and I swear I hear a very familiar old jazz/blues tune in here, but I can't quite identify it at this time. I'd love to see a restoration of this title just to see how it actually ends; the print I've had cuts off abruptly at the end. A piece of the score, here, also appears in a Tex Avery cartoon called "DON'T LOOK NOW" as the mischievious Hot Stuff devil takes his "shower" and readies to start his day.

  2. This was the first Looney Tune to use the zooming WB shield logo.